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WHO Steps Up Support To Uganda’s Evolving Ebola Outbreak

World Health Organization, (WHO), says it is boosting efforts to support the government-led response against Ebola outbreak in Uganda which has affected nine districts, including three complex urban environments.

The first doses of candidate vaccines against the Sudan ebolavirus are expected to arrive in Uganda in the coming days, which a WHO committee of external experts had evaluated three candidate vaccines and agreed that they all be deployed to Uganda for a clinical trial against the Sudan ebolavirus—one of the six species of the Ebolavirus genius.

Unlike the Zaire ebolavirus which has sparked most of the recent outbreaks, there are no approved vaccines or therapeutics for the Sudan ebolavirus.

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WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who spoke in a virtual conference said the start of vaccine trials will mark a pivotal moment towards the development of an effective tool against the virus behind the current Ebola outbreak in Uganda.

Uganda declared an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus on 20 September and as of 14 November 2022, there have been 141 confirmed and 22 probable cases (total of 163 cases) and 55 confirmed and 22 probable deaths (77 total deaths).

It has also been reported that nineteen health workers have been infected with the virus and seven have died.

Dr Moeti is wrapping up a three-day mission to Uganda, where she met with health authorities, key partners and visited Kassanda and Mubende districts the initial epicentre of the outbreak.

In support of the outbreak response WHO has deployed 80 experts and supported health authorities with the deployment of additional 150 experts, including over 60 epidemiologists.

Due to the infectious nature of the Sudan ebolavirus Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which include gowns, gloves, eye protection and medical masks are critical for provision of safe care to patients.

WHO recently delivered 15 000 PPE to Uganda, which are enough to protect health workers caring for patients admitted in the current Ebola treatment units for 30 days. The Organization has helped train nearly 1000 health workers and village health team members in contact tracing, and another 1155 health workers in infection prevention and control in health facilities.

WHO has also launched a US$ 88.2 million appeal to fight the outbreak and support Ebola readiness in neighbouring countries. So far, only 20% of the funds has been received.

“Dedicated response teams are putting incredible efforts on the frontlines to safeguard communities and require robust support to effectively deliver on this crucial task. We must not fail them,” said
Dr Moeti.

“Ebola’s disruptive force is most stark among communities whose lives have been upended
and among families who have lost loved ones.”

The ongoing Sudan ebolavirus outbreak is Uganda’s fifth of its kind there have been seven cases and four deaths in the country’s previous Sudan ebolavirus outbreak in 2012.

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